Burnley MP Julie Cooper, the recently promoted Shadow Junior Health Minister, has condemned the Government’s announcement that it is to push ahead with cuts to funding for community pharmacies, which could lead to 3,000 pharmacies closing across the country.
Mrs Cooper, who owned a pharmacist shop in Burnley before she became an MP, has warned the decision is highly likely to adversely affect constituents in Burnley.
This is a perfect example of the actions of a government who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.Burnley MP and Shadow Junior Health Minister Julie Cooper
She said: “This is a perfect example of the actions of a government who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
“How often have we heard the NHS slogan ‘the right care at the right time in the right place’? For many healthcare and general well-being needs, pharmacy is the right place to provide treatments, advice and important signposting.
“Pharmacy is often the gateway to the NHS in both rural and urban communities and performs an extremely important role.
“Pharmacies also have an extremely important social function in supporting the communities they serve.
“They offer prescription delivery services, often a lifeline for the elderly or those experiencing mobility problems.
“They support the elderly following hospital discharge thereby minimising the risk of readmission and helping to reduce the current bed crisis we hear so much about. They also operate safe needle exchange and methadone programmes.”
Mrs Cooper raised a number of questions that she said needed answering.
• Where will all the patients who currently seek help and advice from these pharmacies go instead?
• How will GPs cope with a further increase in people who would have gone to the closed pharmacy for advice but are now forced to go to them instead?
• How will overstretched A and E departments and urgent care units deal with an increase from people who seek help there because they can no longer get a GP appointment?
• How will the elderly and infirm access this vital service?
She added: “I have seen the true value of community pharmacy first hand when my husband and I owned a pharmacy business in Burnley some years ago. Our customers turned to us for help and advice as a first port of call and we felt trusted and valued.
“I and my fellow members of the Shadow Health Committee, will be doing all in our power to force the government to reconsider these plans and give pharmacies the recognition they deserve for the essential work they do in our communities.”